By Vikrant Rana and Dhruv Mathur
In recent years, India has emerged as a significant player in the global telecommunications industry. With a growing subscriber base, rapid digital transformation, and increasing demand for cutting-edge telecom infrastructure, the country has positioned itself as an attractive market for telecom equipment manufacturers and service providers. To further bolster its position, the Indian government’s introduction of the Production-Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for the telecom sector aims to encourage localization, boost research and development (R&D) activities, and generate cost savings. This article explores how the Telecom PLI can pave the way for India to become a design and manufacturing hub in the telecom domain.
At the same time, R&D also means a rise in the number of new inventions (whether patent-protectable or design-protectable inventions), which helps to limit the danger of innovation infringement. It not only provides exclusive rights to the owner of the IP but also provides legal authority to transfer/assign their rights to use to others so that the person can authorize anyone to use it in exchange for money.
- Localization and Reduced Dependence on Imports: The Telecom PLI scheme is designed to promote local manufacturing of telecom equipment, reducing the industry’s dependency on imports. By offering financial incentives to companies that manufacture equipment domestically, the government aims to create a robust ecosystem that caters to the domestic market as well as exports. With a focus on localization, India can become self-reliant in meeting its telecom infrastructure needs and potentially export equipment to other countries. Local manufacturing not only contributes to India’s economic growth but also enhances the security and reliability of telecom networks. It reduces the risks associated with supply chain disruptions and safeguards against potential geopolitical tensions that might impact import-dependent nations.
- Boost to R&D and Innovation: The Telecom PLI scheme encourages telecom companies to invest in R&D activities within India. By providing incentives based on the incremental sales of locally manufactured equipment, the government is incentivizing businesses to develop cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions in the country. As telecom companies invest in R&D centers, collaborate with academia, and hire local talent, there is a potential for technology transfer, skill development, and the creation of an innovation-driven ecosystem. Such initiatives can lead to breakthroughs in telecommunications technologies and contribute to the development of indigenous intellectual property.
- Cost Savings and Enhanced Competitiveness: The Telecom PLI scheme offers financial incentives based on the sales of locally manufactured equipment. This reduction in production costs can help telecom manufacturers become more competitive in both domestic and international markets. The cost savings can be passed on to consumers, making telecom services more affordable and accessible, ultimately driving higher adoption rates. Additionally, as the cost of telecom equipment decreases, it becomes easier for service providers to expand their networks, especially in rural and remote areas where connectivity remains a challenge. Enhanced connectivity can lead to increased digital inclusion and improved access to essential services, such as healthcare, education, and e-commerce.
- Attracting Global Investments: The introduction of the Telecom PLI scheme has caught the attention of global players in the telecom industry. With India’s large and diverse consumer base, multinational companies are keen on leveraging the incentives to set up manufacturing facilities, R&D centers, and innovation hubs in the country. As foreign investments flow into the telecom sector, it creates opportunities for technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and collaborative ventures with Indian companies. This exchange of ertise can further strengthen India’s position as a design and manufacturing hub, fostering a conducive environment for cross-border partnerships.
- Protection of inventions under IPRScientists and R&D teams across India are devising new inventions/ fresh designs of products on a day-to-day basis. The inventions/designs are then either used in India or abroad, for the purpose of industrial usage and applicability. However, these teams should be also aware of the IP protection regimes set forth by the Indian laws. There are several ways by which IP rights can be utilized for the protection of new inventions/designs, however, the following points should be kept in mind:
|IN CASE THE INNOVATIVE NEW DESIGN IS TO BE USED IN INDIA||IN CASE THE INNOVATIVE NEW DESIGN IS TO BE USED ABROAD||IN CASE THE INNOVATIVE PATENTABLE INVENTION IS TO BE USED IN INDIA ONLY||IN CASE THE INNOVATIVE PATENTABLE INVENTION IS TO BE USED IN INDIA AND ABROAD||IN CASE THE INNOVATIVE PATENTABLE INVENTION IS TO BE USED ABROAD (NOT IN INDIA)|
|A design application can be filed in India under The Design Act, 2000.||A design can be first filed in India and subsequently filed abroad (claiming priority from the Indian Design and its filing date).||A patent can be filed for protecting the technical aspects/ functionality/mechanism/method of manufacturing of a product/ or any novel and inventive product or process.||A patent application can be first filed in India, and subsequently filed outside India.||Only when a resident of India who files, or causes to be filed, a patent application in a jurisdiction foreign to India, without first filing said application in India, they are required to apply for a Foreign Filing License (FFL).|
|Term of protection is for an initial 10 years + 5 years on renewal of the design.||A design can be directly filed abroad as well (i.e., without first filing an application in India).||A patent protection in India is valid for a term of 20 years from the date of filing of application.||The deadline to file the foreign patent application, while claiming the Indian filing application date, is 12 months from the date of Indian filing (by following the Paris Convention Route) OR the term would be 30/31 months from the date of first filing (by following the PCT route).||After attaining the FFL, the Indian resident inventor/applicant would then be permitted to file the patent application outside India (by either Route, i.e., PCT or Paris Convention Route) without first filing the patent application in India.|
|Design protection is for the look and aesthetics of the design, and NOT for the functionality/mechanism/method of manufacturing.||Since, India follows the Paris Convention route, therefore, in case the design is first filed in India, and subsequently filed abroad claiming the filing date from the Indian filing, then it is mandatory to file the design application abroad, within 6 months from the date of filing the Indian design application.||Any person can file a patent application for any invention, which is either under experimentation stage OR at the fully developed stage.|
The Telecom PLI scheme has the potential to transform India into a design and manufacturing hub for the global telecommunications industry. By promoting localization, boosting R&D activities, and driving cost savings, the scheme can attract investments, generate employment, and stimulate technological advancements in the sector. As India moves towards self-sufficiency in telecom equipment manufacturing, it not only enhances its global standing but also strengthens the foundation of a digitally empowered nation. With continued government support, industry collaboration, and a focus on innovation, India can capitalize on its vast potential to lead the telecom revolution on the world stage. However, with legal IPR backing, there would be consistent protection and motivation for the inventors to evolve and upgrade their products.